Companies Have an Absolute Need for Team Building During Covid 19.
Over the past six months, both employees and managers have experienced a roller coaster of emotions. We have all experienced tremendous fear, loneliness, anger, frustration, and confusion. Then, just when we begin to feel optimistic, we experience a new challenge that pulls the rug out from under us.
These emotional ups and downs take a toll on morale and teamwork. So as the team leader, you have to be able to help your team come out of these challenges with vigor and enthusiasm. This is not easy, but it is vital for moral.
In this session, I’m going to cover two solutions to this leadership dilemma. First, we will cover the positive emotions that you can generate among your team to improve morale. The situation is causing team members to focus on the negative. However, if you understand human nature, you can use the same tactics to improve moral. Second, we’ll cover a few fun team building activities that you can do during Covid to increase teamwork.
Covid 19 Is Causing Negative Emotions. Good Leaders Can Turn These Negatives into Positive Emotions.
A couple of months ago, The Fearless Millineal wrote about How to Reduce Stress in an Uncertain World. In that post, she talked about the first two phases of change, Disbelief and Frustration. In each of these stages, we tend to be irrational. Logic doesn’t persuade us. In fact, we tend to act out of character and react with anger.
Phase #3 is Investigation. For the first time in the process, we begin to search for facts. This is what she called “The Danger Zone.” When someone moves through this phase, they will either come out feeling Hope or feeling like a Victim. If it is the latter, they will regress back to the Frustration Phase.
Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Team Members
If you think about what your team has been through in the past six months, it is a constant backslide. We were told that we had to shut down our companies for 14 days to “flatten the curve.” So, many managers and leaders spent that time organizing for the reopening. The time was frustrating but temporary. We can do anything for 14 days. It’s like a vacation.
Then, we got word that the lockdown would extend another 30 days. Instantly, managers, leaders, and team members all moved back to disbelief. This time, though, we still moved quickly through the Disbelief Stage, but we lingered longer in the Frustration Stage. As we were slowly moving through to Stage #3, the riots started.
For many workers, their income has been interrupted. If you can’t pay your bills or you are a month or two behind on your rent or mortgage, it is easy to feel like the world is against you. You can feel alone and isolated. Fear is high.
The Key to Rebuilding Your Team During Covid Is to Get the Individual Team Members Past the Danger Zone.
All of those emotions — fear, frustration, loneliness, disbelief — are very powerful. To rebuild teamwork and morale, you have to replace these negative emotions with positive ones. Every crisis is an opportunity to do this.
One of my coaches used to say, “Soldiers don’t fight for their country. They fight for the guy that’s next to them in the foxhole.” That camaraderie that teams build, whether in sports or the military, comes from accomplishing a shared goal. Great leaders feel a personal loss when someone on the team suffers as a result of their failure. This is human nature.
The opposite is true as well. A good leader feels pride when his or her team members are rewarded for accomplishing a difficult task. Since we know this, emotions like hope, pride, and accomplishment can replace the negative in a crisis. That is if the leader fans the flame of these emotions.
A couple of months ago, I saw a social media post selling tickets to a drive-in movie in the AT&T stadium parking lot. I’m sure that the team that came up with that idea felt a lot of pride and accomplishment. While movie theaters across the country were going bankrupt, this group was thriving.
Five Effective Team Building Ideas During the Covid 19 Pandemic.
Before you decide on which of the ideas below to facilitate for your team, make sure to determine which stage they are currently in. If the majority of your team is still in the Disbelief or Frustration Phases be careful about forcing them to participate in a team activity. It could backfire. Instead, give them a chance to vent and talk out their frustrations. Try to steer them away from discussions about things that are outside of their control.
When my team first did this a couple of months ago, the discussion was interesting. One of my account managers was focusing on how many contracts she had already lost. Another one kept saying, “Well, it is what it is. Now, what are we going to do about it?”
He was trying to let her know that the longer she focuses on what she has lost, the less productive she would be. The question he kept asking was designed to get her to focus on a possible solution. These discussions can be helpful to get the entire team focussing on possibilities versus challenges.
Jumpstart Your Zoom Meeting
Let’s face it. Zoom meetings pretty much… well.. they suck. (For the most part.) However, if you can get your team laughing and having fun at the very beginning of your meeting, it can help. A few months ago, we started offering a 10-minute facilitated icebreaker session to our clients. The idea started as a special request from a client. In fact, I really only expected that we would do one that was requested. However, it went over so well, that they asked us to do another and another.
The idea is to do something fun and interactive to get the group talking BEFORE the Zoom meeting. This way, the official meeting isn’t as one-sided as Zoom meetings often become.
The first time I did this, I introduced myself to the group. Then, I told the group one thing about me that I had never told to any other group. (I mentioned that I had a job as a valet parker in High School. That is until a scratched the door of a Cadillac with the bumper of a Ford Mustang.) Next, I told them that I was going to partner them up into Zoom breakout rooms with another person. When they got into the room, they had to tell the person they were partnered with something that no one else in the company knows about them.
I partnered them up a couple of times. Then, when we came back to the full group, we took turns telling the group what we learned. The group then had to guess who did what. It was hilarious.
A Corny Joke Can Get Them Laughing.
One of my first clients, Ron, was famous (maybe infamous) for telling a corny joke before every meeting. The jokes were always clean and harmless. In fact, they were just as likely to cause people to roll their eyes as much as laugh. But, his team loved his meetings. No one ever showed up late.
Joel Olsteen is a TV preacher down in Houston. He starts every sermon with a joke. He gets tens of thousands of people showing up to church every Sunday.
Looking for material? Just Google “corny joke.” I did. Here is one that came up that is Covid-19 appropriate.
Why did the man keep getting hit with a bike every day?
He was stuck in a vicious cycle. (Wait for the groans.) Since Covid first hit, we have also been stuck in a vicious cycle. Let’s see if we can break that cycle today.
Teach Them to Solve Challenges and Be Creative in Virtual Teams.
During your normal Zoom meetings, you can introduce a challenge that your team is experiencing. Then, divide them into breakout rooms to see who can come up with the best solution. Offer a cash reward or gift card to the winner. This solves two virtual team challenges. First, it helps you come up with creative solutions to the stuff that you are having to deal with during Covid. Second, it replaces the fear and frustration with accomplishment and satisfaction.
If your team is in the early stages of coming back to work, and they are not yet operating effectively virtually, you can do something more fun to get the energy flowing. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, a client had me deliver a virtual murder mystery. We had one of their executives virtually die during a Zoom meeting. Then, the group had to team up to solve the mystery.
They had fun, and the activities got them more comfortable using Zoom, sharing their screens, and accessing shared documents. So they got to learn how to be a more efficient team while having fun and being competitive.
For more details about a “Virtual Murder Mystery” click here.
Give the Group a Collaborative Challenge.
One positive that has come from the whole Covid challenge is that we now have fantastic remote collaboration tools. One big negative, though, is that many team members have no idea how to use them. I’m going to be a little blunt here… If your team members don’t know how to use Zoom (or Teams,) Google Drive/Docs, Slack, and the like by now, shame on you. You are harming your team’s productivity.
Just before Covid hit, we started using a new app to keep track of the people who were registered in our classes. After testing and experimenting, the new app seemed to work perfectly. A month later, though, we realized that during the month of testing, some of the class members hadn’t been processed properly. We had no way of accurately knowing how many people were registered into each class.
We had to check every person manually, and we had to do it quickly. My assistant downloaded the list of new customers into a spreadsheet and shared it via Google drive. I color-coded groups of 10 customers and assigned each color to a team member. As I was working on my 10, I could see blocks of the other parts of the spreadsheet being updated in real-time.
It would have taken one of us days to finish. As a team, though, we knocked it out in less than an hour.
A fun way to teach a team how to virtually collaborate is our “Virtual Escape Room“. It uses shared documents and online breakout rooms. (It is also really fun and competitive.)
Conduct a Virtual Shared Experience for Charity.
Since so many people are suffering during the pandemic, if you have the ability to give back, you should. So many industries have been decimated by Covid, a fun charity team building experience can help your team and someone in need.
These fun activities are fantastic ways to build morale. Your team members will appreciate that your company is helping their community. (They are also really fun and heartwarming.)
For instance, in the traditional Build-A-Bike ® event, teams solve challenges to earn bicycle parts. Once the solve all the challenges and have all the parts, they build a bike for a kid. You can do the same type of event virtually. The team challenges are conducted via a Zoom meeting. Once the challenges are unlocked, the teams are introduced to their kid via the same Zoom call. The teams get to watch their kid ride his/her bike for the first time.
When your team is more comfortable getting back to the office, of course, the in-person events are all the better!
If you want information about how your team can organize a “bicycle building team event” click this link.
Regardless of How You Decide to Rebuild Your Team Post-Covid, Make Sure You Anticipate Resistance.
Anything that someone does for more than 28 days in a row becomes a formidable habit. As your team begins to come back to work, anticipate that you will get resistance. Some team members will still be scared of the virus. Others will have challenges with childcare. Still others will have just gotten used to sleeping in and working in their pajamas.
Just remember that you didn’t build that solid team overnight the first time. It may take some time to get back to the teamwork that you are used to. Hopefully, a few of these team building ideas during Covid 19 can help.